Diving Wrecks in the Baltic Sea
The Baltic is a quite a shallow, mediterranean sea located in North Europe. It is about 1600 km long, average 193 km wide and with maximum depth (on Swedish side) 459m, but average depth is just about 55 meters. It has always been famous for its unpredictable and treacherous waters. Many ships sank to the bottom and many lives of unfortunate sailors were lost within centuries of marine history of Baltic Sea.
This tragic heritage is now attracting scuba divers from all over the globe. It is no secret that Baltic Sea is considered to be the third best wreck diving site in the World.
The amount of already found and marked on maps wrecks goes in hundreds of thousands, and underwater archeologists think that it is just a small percentage of what could be found in those mysterious, green waters.
The Baltic Sea is famous for it`s wrecks, no matter how experienced or how many diving certificates you have, you will find many interesting sites to visit. There are popular among fresh water divers, lying next to the shore, on shallow waters wrecks like Grozny- anti- submarine vessel (15-20m depth), Solen (15m) Swedish XVII warship or Dolphin (21m) magnetic trawler. Even divers with OWD are able to choose among almost a hundred wrecks lying over 20m, some of them are even accessible from the beach (like Bryza, navy support vessel, on 18 meters, near Hel).
More experienced, but still recreational divers, who can go down to 40 meters and have Wreck Diving certificate in theirs logbook (many diving centers won`t take you to any deeper wrecks, if you don`t have adequate certificates!) are allowed to choose more challenging diving sites. Breath taking wrecks like the Trawler (42m)(photo 1), Fu Shan Hai (30m) a Chinese bulk carrier, Steamer (39m) or XVIII century Sail Ship (38m), and hundreds of more just wait for daring divers.
Real adventure awaits for technical divers. On 72m, in dark green abyss and complete silence lies Franken, 179m long oil carrier, legend among Baltic divers, famous for astonishing and breath taking impressions. Even the most experienced divers treat this place with respect and plan carefully their dive.
Other popular wrecks available for technical divers are: Graf Zeppelin (60m) Kriegsmarine`s aircraft carrier, tugboat Abille (47m) or U-346 (54m) and U-Boot (67m).
When wreck diving in Baltic, you should know that Polish naval law does not allowed divers to go into the wrecks, you can just watch them from the outside. However, this is not strictly obeyed and many divers are more then willing to take the risk and visit dark and narrow corridors of sunken ships. If you decide to break the law and swim inside a wreck, remember that you need special training and equipment. Diving with ceiling overhead is always dangerous and demanding. Don`t get encouraged by small depths, technical wreck diving is a challenge for all experienced, properly equipped and certified technical divers, and it`s not an amusement for recreational divers.
Other thing you should be aware of before wreck diving in Baltic Sea are the closed zones. You are not allowed to dive within a radius of 500m from some special wrecks: Goya (75m), Gustloff (47), Steuben (72m). They are considered war tombs and are closed for all divers. Coast guards are very strict in this matter.
Baltic is nothing like south Europe seas, with clear and warm water, good visibility and huge diversity of sea life. You’ll find rather cold waters, strong and unpredictable currents, poor sea life except of jellyfish that reminds us of „Avatar”, weather that can easily change in few moments and sometimes poor visibility. All this combined make the Baltic more challenging and less friendly than any southern waters. However, harsh beauty of dark wrecks, looming in flashlights, surrounded by deep green space can steal every divers heart in one moment. Once caught by its charm, you will wish to stay there forever.
Text: Daria Boruta
Photo: Jacek Bierancki